It all started with a human history. Behind every influence, every decisive encounter in our lives, there is a human being. The history of SEMAFO Foundation is no exception to the rule. Behind SEMAFO and its Foundation, there is a man. One who made it all happen. One who created bridges, where no one believed possible. If you knew him, you would hear him say, “Yes, but … I want to emphasize that I did not do this alone. The credit goes to others.”
Yes, it’s true. His humility honors him. But, initially we recognize that there is one person who initiates, who launches and attempts. This is Mr. Benoit La Salle and the history of the foundation is closely linked to his humanitarian concerns.
SEMAFO Foundation was born from the social vision he provided to SEMAFO Inc. Just see what a gold mining company established in West Africa since 1995 can do, since creation of SEMAFO Foundation. Forget European prejudice against miners and mining that dates from early last century. Please forget the idea that mining in Africa serves only one purpose: to exploit the poorest. For La Salle, everything begins with respect for the human being and the environment, and especially the people with whom we work. Because it is right to say that he was a guest and that he gives back as much as possible to those living in countries (95% of employees in the Mana and Boungou Mines in Burkina Faso are Burkinabè nationals).
Nothing changes unless we push for change
The Canadian company located in Montreal and its president have made it a point to combine commercial and humanitarian activities to increase the well-being of the people and the country. Are you skeptical? Here are the social initiatives made by SEMAFO Inc and SEMAFO Foundation within the three countries in 2008.
* In Burkina Faso, the rehabilitation of the Safané-Boromo-Kona regional highway, the opening of an access to the fields to the village of Somona, construction of a sports field of Oury college, the contribution to the Football cup festivities in Boromo, medical treatment offered to 810 patients at the clinic, the training offered to doctors on site by emergency specialist Dr. Valerie Thomas in Paris, and in the process, the purchase of medical equipment and delivery to the site …
* In Niger, support for family events, donations of school supplies and textbooks for five villages. In addition to the construction of classrooms in schools, without forgetting the construction and repairs of road, construction of of a health center, a clinic where more than 12,000 patients per year are cared for and treated, the purchase of 800 meningitis vaccines, purchase of eight sewing machines and materials for a training program for young girls …
* In Guinea, donation of motorcycle, donation of three trips to Mecca, organizationof the Kiniero and Balan markets, drilling and installation of a water wells, 3,400 textbooks, construction of a Franco-Arabic schools, the construction of a health care center treating over 1500 patients per year, a muticulturel center.
This detailed list shows one thing, that the social role of the company is more than a possibility. That not being blind to the poverty around us, not being insensitive is possible in the corporate world. Nothing is more natural to see this man who has a knowledge and love of the West African communities, to say to himself that we must build a foundation to continue our immense social task. In these countries, the poorest in the world, where the illiteracy rate hovers near 80% (8 out of 10 women cannot read or write), and even worse, the infant mortality rates (and here some startling figures for 1000 births) were 91 in Burkina Faso, 90 in Guinea and 118 in Niger.
Who would dare argue afterwards that a foundation is not necessary and that it is just another NGO? The Foundation, far from being a marketing tool, is necessary when one is sensitive or simply human. Since its establishment on October 20, 2008, SEMAFO Foundation and CEO Chantal Guerin continue the work and projects initiated by Benoit La Salle.
On December 19, 2013, Mr. Benoit Desormeaux was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of SEMAFO Foundation. Mr. Desormeaux was involved in Guinea with UNDP with humanitarian actions.
Since July 2014, the Foundation’s activities are concentrated in Burkina Faso since the Foundation transferred its assets in the Niger office to the ONG Larrasu that was established with the employees of the Fondation SEMAFO Niger. They pursue the activities undertaken by the Foundation to improve the living conditions of the poorest rural populations in the coastal villages of Sirba (Tillabery region) and Yobe River (Diffa region).
This work is only possible with the people of Burkina and you, if like them, you want to tackle the fight against inhumane living conditions.
This post is also available in: French